Nov 10 2020

Preparing for an Office Return with VMware’s Workspace ONE

Businesses see potential to bring onsite the flexibility and mobility they gained from working with a distributed workforce.

After spending half a year trying to run business remotely — perhaps for the first time — many companies might be ready to open the doors once again.

But many of the lessons that businesses learned from the sudden shift to remote work will translate to future life at the office, according to Shankar Iyer, a senior vice president and general manager for end user computing for VMware.

“While we get the first glimpses of what the new normal means, we believe that customers will move from merely supporting remote work to becoming truly work-from-anywhere organizations, empowering a distributed workforce,” Iyer said during a VMworld 2020 keynote on future-ready workforces.

A study commissioned by the company found that 90 percent of employees expected that their employers would provide digital tools for remote work. What was once considered a perk is now being thought of as essential, and this sentiment isn’t limited to pandemic operations. Iyer explained that there are expectations that distributed work will increasingly include in-person components as well as remote ones.

“For the physical aspects, we must consider how to accommodate social distancing, where we hire employees and how we use office space,” he said. “For the cultural experience, we must rethink what it means to manage a distributed workforce with new ways of collaborating and interacting with each other.”

DISCOVER: Learn more about enabling a hybrid work environment. 

The physical experience, the cultural experience and technology are the three pillars that will make up the future of work, Iyer said, and there needs to be a binding force between them.

“It’s a single factor that holds these three pillars together,” he said.

That single factor is a digital workspace suite that can integrate the needs of the future of work. For VMware, that solution is Workspace ONE, an offering that aims to deliver necessary applications across different silos that can arise in modern organizations.

Which Remote Work Lessons Should Move Onsite?

Many organizations have been using Workspace ONE to help manage their employees in a distributed environment. While the added flexibility has been incredibly helpful for business continuity during this time, it also holds potential when the offices reopen.

During a roundtable session at VMworld on improving employee experiences, Jordan Sones, the head of mobility services at the investment advisory firm Vanguard, noted that his company has been using Workspace ONE to focus on improving the computing experience offsite.

“They still have everything they need to do their job, but also feel good about how they can do their job and maybe take advantage of some new experiences along the way,” he said. “And then, hopefully, as they return to the office in the future, take the best of those kinds of experiences with them.”

Similar needs for flexibility pop up in different industries as well, such as retail. During the same session, Casey Bookout, the senior manager for technology services at Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, a national chain of truck stops, said that his team has been focused on improving the frontline experience in an effort to help employees feel less stress.

“How can we help these people have a good experience, an empowered experience on the front lines?” he said. “Because if they're not getting that, then that's not going to translate to our customers.”

The company has worked to offer a mobile experience that helps workers do their job directly on the floor, he said, rather than having to check a computer in the back.

“Empowering them with a better mobile experience that helps them where they’re at to do their job, and then in turn connect with customers, really has made a difference for us and is something we'll continue to work through,” he added.

An Integrated Contact-Tracing Solution

Beyond helping employees work together remotely, businesses also need solutions that consider what happens when workers return to the office. One of the issues many organizations are likely to deal with is contact tracing, which protect workers when they have to share a space.

Workspace ONE Proximity is a mobile application that allows IT departments to roll out a contact-tracing program that can detect and report potential COVID-19 connections at work sites around the country. The solution, which is part of the Workspace ONE suite, uses beacons and Bluetooth low energy connections to detect where an employee has been in the workplace, and with whom that employee has worked closely.

The application, which is offered at no additional cost to Workspace ONE customers, aims to keep workers informed about potential risks while maintaining personal privacy.

Brought to you by:

nito100/Getty Images